Moving Toward the Regenerative Highway Corridor — Technologies and Implications for Workforce

Game-changing technologies in Transportation are on the way and a stretch of highway in Georgia is proving it with real-world pilot projects. The Ray is a proving ground for regenerative technologies along an 18-mile stretch of I-85, south of Atlanta. According to The Ray’s website, the goal for the highway is to become “net zero,” meaning zero deaths, zero waste, zero carbon, and zero impact. Today, there are seven active pilot projects on the site with another half dozen in the works for implementation over the next couple of years.

Solar Energy Generation

Solar power is a big part of the regenerative ecosystem being created, with multiple pilots of solar technologies in place or planned at the site.

In 2015, Georgia’s first solar-powered, photovoltaic-for-electric-vehicle charging station was installed.

The first solar pavement pilot in the United States, called the Wattway was installed at The Ray in 2016. This is a 50-square-meter site with solar panels that are affixed to the existing roadway and support all types of vehicle traffic including fully loaded 18-wheel tractor-trailers. The solar energy that’s generated from the road surface is sent to the nearby Georgia Visitor Information Center.

“The Georgia DOT is actually benefitting from the clean energy that’s being generated from the road surface via the Wattway when it is not shaded by a passing car or truck. It’s a little over a year old and has generated over 6.4 megawatt hours of energy during that time,” said The Ray’s Executive Director, Allie Kelly.

Georgia will become the third state to pilot right-of-way solar when a megawatt solar farm is built on the highway shoulder this year.

Solar panels can also be combined with other functional highway infrastructure. Research is being done on barriers that have solar panels attached.

Making Use of the Right-of-Way

Solar energy is not the only renewable resource being explored. Since 2016, the right-of-way along the highway has been used to grow a special type of perennial wheat grass that has deep roots that help retain water and sequester carbon. The straw from these plants can be used as an alternative to trees for products such as paper towels.

Other innovations in the utilization of the natural spaces around highways include the use of bioswales and pollinator-friendly plantings. A project tracking a series of bioswales—shallow drainage ditches filled with vegetation or compost that slow and clean water runoff—will help measure the impact this intervention has on water quality. A 7,000 square-foot pollinator garden has also been piloted at the visitor center located on the proving grounds.

A Better Road Surface

Incorporating recycled tire rubber into asphalt to create a better road surface is another innovation being explored through the proving grounds. The resulting rubberized asphalt mix creates a more resilient, crack resistant, and quieter road surface with a useful life expectancy that is 15-to-20 percent longer than traditional asphalt. With the help of The Ray’s leadership, this innovative technology was brought to the attention of county and city leadership and was recently used on a neighboring stretch of road, the Tom Hall Parkway. That project presents a template that could be used in the coming years for a total repaving of The Ray.


Safety is a key component of The Ray’s mission. Work toward this goal began with a focus on under-inflation, the most common factor in tire failure, which is a significant cause of traffic fatalities.

In 2016, a UK innovation called WheelRight, was installed, which is an all-in-one tire safety station. To use, drivers simply pull their vehicle through the equipment at a low rate of speed. It is vehicle agnostic, working on school buses as well as sedans. The tests and analysis take about seven seconds, from start to finish, providing an evaluation of the tire pressure and the tire tread on all tires simultaneously, as well as an examination of the sidewalls.

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Coming up this year, The Ray is focused on smart road deployment with the goal of making it a route for connected and autonomous vehicles. Working with the Georgia DOT and a global data company, a pilot of connected vehicle technologies will work to improve the data analysis capabilities of traffic management centers.

Another pilot will focus on the changes needed in the infrastructure of the interstate to make it ready for autonomous vehicles.

“Instead of primarily working on the computer analysis, which is what the connected piece of this is about, the autonomous piece is about how to change the infrastructure so that autonomous vehicle systems, like computer vision, can operate most effectively and safely in that highway environment,” said Kelly.

How will Evolving Technologies Affect Workforce Needs?

As can be seen through the work being done at The Ray, with all the potential changes coming to highway infrastructure, the care and maintenance of transportation assets could also be greatly affected. This brings up interesting questions about how the Transportation field should be preparing the workforce for the future.

“Solar roads don’t need to be ground down or micro-milled. They don’t need to be crack-sealed, right? But, these are the things that are a part of routine maintenance with asphalt roads,” said Kelly.

How will processes for maintaining highways be impacted when the infrastructure is physically changed? What will this mean for the skills and expertise needed by the people responsible for its upkeep?

Some of these technologies take what has been a single-use asset, requiring time, money, and resources for upkeep, and turns it into a resource that can potentially generate income. What impact might this have on the overall business model?

“When you unleash single-use assets to operate in a variety of ways or to multi-task, DOTs should be poised to collect the revenue, the financial value, from that multi-tasking,” said Kelly.

Could the ownership of, or responsibility for, certain assets also shift with evolving technologies? With the potential of generating energy in the right-of-way, will this require the DOT to start behaving like a power utility? Or, conversely, will utility companies take on responsibility for highway assets?

“I wish it was a conversation that we were having as a nation because there is a transition that necessarily accompanies these technological advances in transportation,” said Kelly. “You are going to need people with the knowledge of renewable energy and electrical engineering to be involved in the maintenance of that kind of road.”

Traffic Engineering Lessons Guide Teens through Crash Prevention Concepts

A standard curriculum for a science class does not include an exploration of Transportation occupations. Engineering topics are covered, but the specific roles of the people who build and maintain our transportation systems are not.

Always looking for ways to provide a broader range of learning experiences to her students, Hope Mikkelson, a science teacher at Verona Area High School in south central Wisconsin, was excited to learn of the suite of free STEM lesson plans from NanoSonic. She immediately began preparations to bring them to the Science Club she mentors.

“These students are always wanting to learn. As teachers, we develop lessons within the curriculum, but that can be very regimented. These students want more,” said Mikkelson.

Team leaders of the club, all of whom were juniors, came together to work through, “Lesson 2: Stopping Distance and Crash Avoidance Laboratory Exercise Grade 9-12,” the second lesson plan in a module on crash prevention in this suite. Students, Gail, Chris, Meg, Molly, and Celia, gave up their lunch period to explore the activities and concepts.

Gail and Meg read through the lesson plan ahead of time and provided some feedback.

“The lesson plans are easy to follow. Each was 90 to 120 minutes long. I would suggest making them 50 minutes long or creating a definite stopping point in the middle,” said Gail.

The lesson plans were developed to be used in an after-school STEM program. For groups like this one, being able to fit the lesson plans into a classroom period would be beneficial.

Mikkelson guided the students through an initial thought exercise. She posed the question, “Why are more and more intersections being built as roundabouts rather than traditional four-way intersections, or crossroads?”

To answer this question, the students broke into two groups. They discussed the questions and drew models of both types of intersections on the white board. Then, the groups discussed the effects of collision on a car, on the human body. After working separately, the two groups came together to discuss their findings.

Crash scenarios that the students expected to see in roundabouts included side swipes and fender benders. Gail pointed out that collisions in roundabouts will likely be between vehicles traveling in the same direction, at similar speeds, so, the impacts will probably have less force.

All of the students have their driver’s licenses. During the discussion, their personal experiences were brought into the discussion. While they may not have referred to them in these terms, students shared their experiences with human factors and driver-assist technologies. Their experiences with a student parking lot filled with inexperienced drivers illustrated some key challenges with traffic flow and congestion. And, Chris has more than one friend who has backed into something while using a backup-assist video camera. Because the camera only showed what’s directly behind the vehicle and not the sides, his friends have gotten into trouble by relying too heavily on what is displayed on the screen.

“These lessons make the ideas behind Traffic Engineering more meaningful for the students,” said Mikkelson.

This suite of Transportation-focused lesson plans created as part of a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation was highlighted by MTWC last year. At the time, NanoSonic had worked with STEM teachers in the Giles County, Virginia school district to pilot and field test the lessons and were starting to get the word out to other educators.

Future Construction Workers Engaged and Prequalified through Games

A suite of games, videos, and assessment tools is helping build awareness and close the skills gap for the growing number of quality careers in highway construction. In partnership with Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania (CAWP), Ladders of Opportunity, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Simcoach Games has developed the Future Road Builders game. This game addresses a concerning talent gap seen by employers by allowing people to explore the field and develop skills.

Future Road Builders doesn’t just provide games, it also comes with a dashboard that provides an avenue for connecting companies with potential employees. The dashboard provides organizations with data-based insights into who is using the game. Insights include what region players are in, what interests they have, and what aptitudes they have shown. Additionally, organizations can license the ability to send targeted messages to specific audiences based on players’ zip codes.

According to the Simcoach website, the combination of game design techniques with proven learning principles results in a solution that, “requires less time to deliver, increases retention for learners, and measurably improves a defined outcome.”

A pilot project with the Western Pennsylvania Operating Engineers is demonstrating the power of gamification. The pilot is about three quarters of the way through the 2018 apprenticeship application process, but preliminary numbers are being tabulated.

Chris Seidler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Simcoach Games points out, “the goals of Future Road Builders were to increase the number of prequalified applicants, female applicants, and minority applicants into Western Pennsylvania apprenticeship opportunities . Initial statistics indicate very promising results in accomplishing those goals.”

The early numbers demonstrate that playing Future Road Builders not only helped draw people into the apprenticeship program, but it also helped better prepare applicants as they moved through the process. While overall, 26% of all applicants had played Future Road Builders, the game did a good job engaging women and minorities to apply. Among the minority applicants who were selected to interview, 40% had played Future Road Builders, and among the women who were selected to interview, 45% had played the game.

Another one of Simcoach’s games has been regionally customized for South Dakota. Build South Dakota: The Game is a virtual pre-apprenticeship experience. In it, the player explores the different phases of a highway construction project and uncovers the skills needed to be a Carpenter, Pile Driver, Concrete Finisher, Skilled Laborer, Heavy Equipment Operator, and Inspector.

For more information, you may also like this interview with Simcoach Games founder, Jessica Trybus, on Venture Beat or visit

More Apprenticeship Programs are Being Offered through Programs Sponsored by Community and Technical Colleges

With benefits like an 88% retention rate for apprentices, a built-in source of high-performing students, and an increasing interest among businesses, more and more community and technical colleges are seeing the value in sponsoring registered apprenticeship programs through the US Department of Labor. By being a program sponsor, the college takes on the responsibility of classroom education as well as all the paperwork, ultimately making it easy for employers to hire apprentices. In this model, even small companies, who are hiring just one or two apprentices at a time, can use this proven method to grow their talent pipelines.

When Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, began their program, they were one of just three colleges in the country that were Registered Apprenticeship program sponsors. The growth in sponsorship among community colleges can be seen on the website for the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC), which currently lists 23 colleges that are program sponsors.

One state, Georgia, has taken this to the next level by working to approve most of the technical colleges in the state to act as Registered Apprenticeship sponsors through Georgia WorkSmart, a work-based learning initiative operated by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Businesses are also increasingly taking advantage of apprenticeship to grow expertise within their workforce.

“We’re finding that, after their first experience, companies want to expand and add apprentices in different industries,” said Dr. Rebecca Lake, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Harper College. For example, Lake pointed to one company that had enrolled an apprentice in Harper’s Logistics/Supply Chain Management program and then came back the next year with an apprentice for the Banking/Finance program, because they had a need in that area of their business, as well.

Like apprenticeship programs across the country, Harper is growing their Registered Apprenticeship programs in white collar industries. Their newer programs include Banking/Finance, Sales & Retail Manangement, and Graphic Arts Print Production. A program in Cyber Security is also in the works.

Lake is actively working to develop an apprenticeship program for truck drivers at Harper College. To do this, she is utilizing a curriculum created by another college in Illinois, another benefit to community colleges that join the RACC.

“If you’re part of the network, you can get curricula. You, don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Lake.

Reinvigorating Interest in Transportation Occupations for Engineers Week 2018

This year for Engineers Week, the Midwest Transportation Workforce Center will be thinking about what it takes to build an engineering workforce that will be capable of maintaining the nation’s transportation infrastructure. What skills and knowledge will workers need over the next 5-to-15 years in order to be successful in light of the rapidly advancing technologies and data systems moving into the transportation sector?

Attracting young people to this field begins today and it begins early—in elementary, middle, and high school. Engineers Week is filled with events and activities to engage and inspire people to envision a career filling one of these important roles.

Each state in the MTWC region celebrates engineering in its own way. You can find Engineers Week events as well as other activities designed to inspire and educate young people about their career options in the MTWC Clearinghouse searchable database.

For the Midwest, we’ve compiled a short list of events for each state:


The DuPage Area STEM Expo on Saturday, is a specialized event designed to promote the awareness of professional and educational opportunities provided among engineering and STEM fields. The event features over 50 displays, presentations, projects to take home and activities for school-age children, grades K–12.


The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis had engineers from various disciplines stationed near several exhibits throughout the museum during its annual Engineers Day event. Each station will have a hands-on activity and volunteers will be there to talk with visitors, answer any questions about engineering, and hand out materials.

Older students might enjoy the Engineers Week High School Bridge Contest on Saturday held on the campus of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.


Several fun events are scheduled for the college’s students during the Iowa State University Engineers’ Week. The goal is to involve the college in a celebration of engineering that encompasses all students, faculty, staff, and alumni.


For two days, March 2nd and 3rd, the Kansas University School of Engineering will open its doors to Elementary and Middle School students to explore the world of engineering during its Engineering Expo 2018. Students will have unique opportunities to learn more about science and engineering through demonstrations, hands-on activities, and competitions. This year’s competitions include: Marshmallow Tower, Downhill Car, Rube Goldberg, Egg Drop, Skyscraper, Pasta Bridge, Paper Airplane, Catapult, and Water Rocket.

March 10th will be the 20th anniversary of the Society of Women Engineers Wichita Section’s 2018 Engineering Expo. The event is designed to show students in grades K–8 how cool engineering can be. This free event features hands-on activities as well as smaller, in-depth workshops for kids in grades 6, 7 and 8. Workshops this year include: Apollo 13 CO2 Filter, Build a Fidget Spinner, Hydraulic Claw, Solar Cars, and Squishy Circuits.


This Friday, the American Center for Mobility’s Exploration Day: The Future of Self-Driving Vehicles will offer opportunities to learn from industry experts on the state of industry and technology of self-driving vehicles (and drones), experience demo vehicles, take a tour of the new American Center for Mobility test site, and talk to company representatives about job opportunities. The morning is open to veterans. Students are invited in the afternoon.


The MPS STEM & Career Exploration Expo, February 21st, is a keystone event for all Minneapolis Public Schools’ 8th grade students to explore STEM-related career interests and learning opportunities in the community. Community partners will provide hands-on, interactive exhibits designed to increase student interest in STEM-related learning and/or career opportunities related to Minnesota’s career fields that keep our economy strong: Business, Management & Administration, Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, Arts, Communications & Information Systems, Engineering, Manufacturing & Technology, Health Sciences, and Human Services.

Get ready to dive into the world of technology and engineering at Tech Fest on Saturday. The biggest event of the year for The Works Museum. With dozens of hands-on activities led by scientists, engineers, and educators, this special family STEM day is a perfect opportunity to explore together. The event brings together all the areas of STEM with activities and demos designed just for families. With building, making, chemistry, the physics of launching rockets, exploring technology used to save lives and keep us healthy, and more, Tech Fest is a perfect family outing for a wintry day.


At Coding is as easy as Raspberry Pi on February 27th, kids will explore the world of coding using these credit card-sized computers and learn the basics of computer languages such as SCRATCH.


Each year, the Case Engineering Council (CEC) coordinates Case Western Reserve University’s Engineers Week with several events scheduled for Case students. They are able to participate in friendly competition, social events, seminars with excellent speakers, and a reception.


The one-day STEM Exploration Day for Girls on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus will be February 23rd. This event caters to 7th and 8th grade girls to get them fired up and excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The event showcases STEM career professionals from throughout Wisconsin and faculty from the UW system. Students will engage in hands-on workshops and learn the many career paths available with an education in STEM. A $40 registration fee includes exhibit exploration, a keynote presentation, three one-hour workshops, event materials, a t-shirt and a lunch. Students have 27 workshops to choose from.

Driverless Vehicles Provide Moving Shield for Highway Maintenance Workers

Safety, whether from eliminating human error or by removing people from dangerous situations, has been a strong motivator for much of the work being done on autonomous vehicles. This trend continues and will remain a top factor in the adoption of driverless technologies. Most recently, the safety of roadway maintenance crews is the purpose of a new driverless vehicle.

In August, the Colorado Department of Transportation unveiled a driverless vehicle designed to protect roadway maintenance crews by putting itself between human workers and any errant vehicles that might cross into the work zone. The new vehicle, called an Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV), is scheduled to be deployed this year and has special crash-mitigating equipment just like traditional impact protection vehicles, but it also has the benefit of not requiring a member of the work crew to be behind the wheel.

In a press release on August 18, 2017, Shailen Bhatt, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Executive Director, is quoted as saying, “Just in the last four years, there have been 26 incidents where a member of the traveling public struck a CDOT impact protection vehicle…This is a dangerously high number when you consider that in some instances, a CDOT employee is sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle that was hit. By using self-driving technology, we’re able to take the driver out of harm’s way while still effectively shielding roadside workers.”

Automation is just one of several emerging technologies that are transforming how highway maintenance is done. As part of a national initiative, the Midwest Transportation Workforce Center is currently exploring this sector by looking at the changing skill and competency requirements of highway maintenance workers in response to advancements in areas like vehicle automation, information systems, and sensing technologies. Through this initiative, MTWC is working to establish career pathways in the Highway Maintenance Engineering discipline to ensure that the discipline will be able to attract and retain the creative and skilled problem solvers that will be needed.

While the CDOT autonomous safety vehicle is the first of its kind, other states will soon follow. Missouri Department of Transportation just released a request for proposals on January 5th for a similar vehicle system with the goal, “to avoid operator injury by eliminating the need for a human operator in the [Follow Truck].”

Safety through eliminating human operators is not a new concept. Military vehicles have been under development for some time, utilizing the same technologies now being put to use in civil settings. Two months ago, Lockheed Martin announced progress testing their Autonomous Mobility Applique System (AMAS), having logged more than 55,000 testing miles over recent months.

The company’s press release explained that the AMAS system provides semi-autonomous leader/follower capability. Benefits, according to the release include that the system, “reduces manpower needs for convoy operations, freeing Soldiers up for other tasks and removing them from exposure to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other enemy activity while on resupply missions.”

As a country, we entrust highway maintenance workers with a great deal of responsibility. Today’s highway maintenance workers are responsible for keeping the infrastructure in a state of good repair and at the same time keeping the adjacent air, soil, wildlife, plant life and water clean and healthy. It is only fitting that new technologies be implemented to protect the well-being of this important workforce.

Emerging Careers – Autonomous Vehicle Development, Deployment, and Maintenance

This is the first article in a three-part series, “Transformational Technologies and Emerging Careers in Transportation.”

The futuristic technology of driverless vehicles now seems to be on the precipice of a widespread reality. News items on projects around the world pop up daily and the recent CES consumer technology show in Las Vegas showcased half a dozen cars with autonomous capabilities. According to journalist, Samara Lynn, in an article on CES for Black Enterprise, “If there was one, star attraction at CES this year, arguably it was vehicles. Vendors, including Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Nissan gave CES attendees a look into the cars of the very near future.”

Autonomous vehicles capture the imagination and young people setting out on their career paths and selecting their post-high school educational route have been hearing the rumblings of this phenomenon for their entire lives. Today, those wishing to get into this field have a variety of opportunities to get involved.

Working toward the goal of making autonomous vehicles a reality is the Wisconsin Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This group is managed by Peter Rafferty, an engineer with a masters in Transportation Engineering, with other graduate work in planning and economics.

When asked how students can break into the field and work with autonomous vehicles, Rafferty points out that there are several fields that contribute to this discipline. Traditionally, transportation has been largely composed of Civil Engineers and Transportation Planners.

“There is always going to be a need for the infrastructure side, like Civil Engineering,” said Rafferty. “But, when it comes to traffic control, that’s becoming increasingly technical. Automated and connected vehicle growth in those areas is very multidisciplinary,” said Rafferty.

Rafferty points out that experience with database systems was helpful for his career. While he is not a computer programmer or a software engineer, just being able to work with data has been beneficial to him.
“I say to students, ‘Make sure you’re getting some exposure to basic scripting and working with big data,’” said Rafferty.

People entering this field today come from a variety of backgrounds including electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

Steve Herro, Project Manager of the Al Hurvis-Peak Transportation Center at the Milwaukee Area Technical College in Wisconsin, points out that people beginning their training as automotive technicians today will be working on cars with the types of technologies that come with autonomous vehicles. As examples, many of today’s newer vehicles come equipped with automatic emergency breaking, backup cameras, adaptive cruise control, and self-parking systems, all of which are components of autonomous vehicles.

However, not all automotive technicians will be working with driverless cars in the next five years or even in the next decade. “You have to be a little careful luring people into the field with autonomous vehicles,” said Herro, pointing out that only a small percentage of vehicles on the road will be driverless for some time. “Only a master technician will be able to touch any of those cars,” he said.

As a manager, Rafferty has not had to know all the technical details of all these varied fields, but he has had to develop an understanding of the concepts from them and “learn the lingo.” He has augmented his knowledge with some online courses. There are materials relevant to this field on online educational resources, such as Coursera and Udacity. Rafferty suggests taking courses on computer science, digital security, machine learning, sensor data, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

“If I were 25 years younger and going into college, I would go to one of these online resources,” he said.

His background as a planner has also been helpful. From this, he is able to understand the human experience with transportation and mobility. Rafferty thinks about autonomous vehicles more broadly than just automating a piece of hardware.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with autonomous vehicles here at the university. This is not something I could have done as a consultant.”

Public-Private Partnership Helps Technical College Launch New Transportation Center with $3 Million Challenge Grant

A curious person, who uses their sleuthing skills to get to the bottom of a problem with the aid of computerized diagnostic equipment, may not be what most people picture when they think about automotive technicians or diesel mechanics. Yet, today, successful candidates in these occupations are just that; they are inquisitive problem solvers. They need these skills to work in a field that has become increasingly technical and computerized.

There is a shortage of workers with these skills nationally, and in Wisconsin, employers are having trouble finding the talent they need to fill positions. In the state’s largest city, Milwaukee, a public-private partnership, called the MATC RevUp program, has been launched to help recruit more people into the field and provide needed training.

Tom Hurvis, issued the funding challenge to help fill the need for more technicians and provide opportunities for students to obtain the skills needed for a family-supporting career in the automotive field.

Tom Hurvis, Co-founder of Old World Industries, issued a $3 million challenge grant in March 2017 to expand automotive programs at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and kick off fund raising to create the Al Hurvis-Peak Transportation Center. Grant funding will provide seed money to launch expanded academic programming and outreach activities, including the additional personnel and equipment expenses for the new transportation center.

The grant provides $1 million in immediate funding, and up to an additional $2 million for every dollar MATC raises for the RevUp program over two years. To house the transportation center, MATC is repurposing an existing auditorium at its downtown campus. The building will be named the Al Hurvis PEAK Transportation Center to honor Tom Hurvis’ father, Al Hurvis, who was an automotive executive in the Milwaukee area.

The RevUp project is taking aim at the causes behind the talent gap in the state.

“The biggest issues are two-fold. First, there is a shortage. The recession caused people to hold off retiring. But now, with the economy rebounding, combined with all the changes in technology, a lot of those baby boomers are leaving. We’re going to have serious technician gaps in the workforce,” said Steve Herro, Project Manager of the Al Hurvis-Peak Transportation Center at MATC. “Secondly, there is a negative stereotype around auto mechanics. It is seen as a non-technical career with no growth potential. This is why we use the term technicians, to better reflect the current reality of this occupation.”

In addition to technology evolving, the way that young people find their way to careers like automotive technician or diesel mechanic has also changed.

“In the past, young people probably had some sort of mentor—like a family member—who was working on a car and they got a chance to help. In our urban areas, today, youth coming up have not had the same sorts of opportunities,” said Herro.

The RevUp program is focused on opportunities for students in urban settings. The two-pronged approach is providing additional support and engagement activities for existing students and outreach into the community to get more young people interested in transportation careers.

The RevUp program is focused on opportunities for students in urban settings. The two-pronged approach is providing additional support and engagement activities for existing students and outreach into the community to get more young people interested in transportation careers.

MATC RevUp will be partnering with area groups, like the Boys and Girls Club, which have expertise in putting on camps, to host automotive-related camps starting this summer. These camps will be at the middle school and high school level and introduce students to careers in the automotive industry. Representatives from area businesses will offer their time as mentors. One of the planned activities for high schoolers is to build raceable go carts. This project will provide experience with engines, fabrication, and auto-body painting.

Herro points out that the skills learned by automotive technicians provide advancement opportunities over time along a career pathway. These skills are also highly transferable according to Herro, and technicians may not spend their whole careers in the automotive field.

“One of our instructors told me that he had a student from the diesel program who went on to work on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico making $100 grand after three years. Diesel is a huge area because you can work on any diesel engine. It doesn’t matter if it’s at a power company, in a truck, or in a manufacturing setting,” said Herro.

The RevUp program will also be running after-school clubs during the school year. While Wisconsin has many high-quality automotive programs that meet national standards, many schools in the state have discontinued their automotive programs due to costs.

“Often, an automotive program might have $500 to $1000 per year to purchase supplies. That doesn’t even provide annual updates for their automotive diagnostic equipment,” said Herro. “We need to do more than just support those schools. We need to dive deeper into the community and get more students interested in these programs,” he said.

Milwaukee area native, Tom Hurvis, chairman of Old World Industries, LLC, the parent company of the PEAK automotive brand, issued this funding challenge to help fill the need for more technicians and provide opportunities for students in urban Milwaukee to obtain the skills needed for a family-supporting career in the automotive field.

Interested donors can contact Laura Bray, Executive Director of the MATC Foundation and MATC Vice President of College Advancement and External Communications, at

State-Focused Internship Portals Keep Talent within Borders During Crucial Career Decision Point

The ability of internship programs to retain talent has spurred a growing interest in internship programs as well as the launch of internship-matching portals catering to in-state employers. In the Midwest, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and most recently, Wisconsin, all have websites dedicated to promoting their state’s internship opportunities.

Logistics Engineering Technology Pre-College Experience

In its second year, the experiential summer program is part of a project to build an academic pathway for Logistics Engineering Technicians funded by a National Science Foundation grant under the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. The project addresses skills and knowledge gaps found in emerging occupations in the logistics field where automation and sophisticated computerized systems are becoming more prevalent.